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Raising Victor Vargas review

New York's Lower East Side has rarely looked better than in this charming rites-of-passage tale, a paean to first love and growing pains that bathes the Big Apple in the honey glow of a long, hot summer. The eponymous Victor (Victor Rasuk) is a 17-year-old Latino whose street cred takes a severe knock when he foolishly beds an ugly chick. To save his self-perpetuated rep as a ladies' man, Victor sets out to woo and win "Juicy" Judy Ramirez (Judy Marte), a mini J-Lo who uses Victor's clumsy advances to deter all her other admirers.

Peter Sollett's debut feature initially recalls Patricia Cardoso's Real Women Have Curves, especially in the generation-gap conflict between its adolescent protagonist and his devout Grandma (Altagracia Guzman). But the movie soon finds its own voice through the efforts of its nonprofessional cast and its witty, insightful depiction of faltering teenage courtship. And there isn't a guy alive who won't wince at the scene where Granny catches Victor's younger brother having a J Arthur in the crapper.

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